I have a 1950's cinderblock home. I planted 4 Castle Wall series hollies in front, South-West, on top of highly amended Virginia Clay soil. Deep mulch, careful watering. I bought premium shrubs, 2 male and 2 female, two years ago, and planted them as soon as I bought them, in Fall. They did nothing, stayed looking the same - no new growth. In winter, I put protective burlap around them (wrapped around tall wood stakes). In spring, they looked the same. I thought they were just slow to establish. I babied them through our Virginia summer, and in Fall, they looked puny, having dropped some leaves, yellowed their stems, yet the males had done their job and the ladies had plenty of berries. No new leaves though. Our painter put a bright white coat of paint on, and the hollies continued their decline. Now, this spring, I decided to yank them out, thinking that the paint had increased the heat and decreased their chances of survival. Two years is enough. I need some nice foundation shrubs, have little space, and these just did not like my conditions, Holly-tone and all. I went to the same nursery this morning to look around, and got sucked to the sale area. GOOD THING TOO. There was a male, same type and probably the same lot as mine. He looked just a little worse! So, now I feel vindicated. I know how to grow things, and jeese, these hollies probably belong to a much cooler, mistier area than mine. However, it would be great to be able to read beyond tags and the staff "Know-It-Alls" who insisted that conditions were right for this purchase. Bottom line? Get ye to the SALE LOT at your local nursery and see if what you're interested in is there. Also, it is a great idea to look at the non-affordable HUGE versions of your interest, to see if the thing is what you want to see as your cute little plant grows up...now how about that advice?!
Spoke too soon. Hubby transplanted the boys to a safer, more protected place. One of the ladies is so yellow...he transplanted her to a place that probably will not be great. But, oh well. After scratching my head and getting alot of advice, I'm going to buy another lady and gentleman. I'm NOT giving up yet! You see, the one lady that I have is getting new growth and looking good! So, patience is the way to go! And, prayers will be said!
Given that endorsement, I'd suggest you take advantage of the annual Holly Society of America meeting in Richmond, VA coming in this fall. October 24 - 28, 2012 - and guaranteed attendance by most everyone who knows anything (important) about the genus Ilex.
Well now, ViburnumValley, I know a TON of unimportant stuff about the genus Ilex, so where does that put ME? LOL! Now, I could NOT resist!
I ripped out two "Carefree" shrub roses bushes yesterday (one each in front of the Hollies), as one presented the horrid RDD disease, and I replaced them with two "Soft Touch" Hollies which for the life of me look just like boxwoods (well, similar). My plan is to keep those $$$ Castle series Hollies' roots as cool as possible, so these should do the job, with an extra helping of mulch.
So, all is well for the moment in my garden, except for the Black Spot that is on my Heirloom roses (but I zapped them last night with Neem Oil solution).
And my "Endless Summer" Hydrangea looks like it came out of the Florist. Just breathtaking. But still not a Holly! LOL!
Update: It is stinkin' hot here in Virginia, and the new Holly dropped many old leaves that turned brown half-way up from the tip. I threw some more mulch around it. This is where I got really concerned last year with my others. But, the new Holly seems to be taking care of its new leaves. I looked over at the one I planted last year, and it is almost black, with glossy leaves and a filled-out shape.
So, I'm not worrying about the new Holly. The ones that Hubby refused to throw out when we transplanted them this Spring, are hanging in there, not without signs of trauma. But, and this is a BIG BUT, they are alive! And we're not "pandering" to them!
I really enjoy seeing how things grow, as they teach me what their unique qualities are, and all about patience. These Hollies seems to really become stressed with transplanting, and they also seem to take awhile to get established. But, they are looking quite promising! Stay tuned!
I have also noticed something weird about my landscaping in general. Where in the WORLD did all that nice mulch go that I bought not too long ago? Jeese! Had to buy another pick-up load for a certain area, and could have bought MUCH more!